I know it’s easy to fire up Grindr, get your fixÂ (just chat to full hookup), and then disappear forever. Say no goodbyes, give no explanations.
That is its brilliance reallyâ€”serving voracious men on the hunt. No Strings Attached or NSA, as they say.
But do me a favor and stop. Here’s why:
Every time you interact with someone, it’s like you’re opening a file folder. You add details to it. Photos, quotes, scraps of information and clippings from your memory and from conversations with others about someone.
In a perfect situation, one in which you have every right to exit whenever you feel like it, you respect the other person enough to tell him goodbye. Explain yourself somewhat. Provide a space for honesty and humility.
You neatly secure all the folder’s contents, and then you tuck it back into place, and shut the drawer.
In the past, you had to call someone, or face them in person, to break up. Or even to just tell them to leave you alone. To say you’re not attracted, you’re already taken, or the sex wasn’t that great and there’s no chemistry. Those are all fine reasons to part ways.
Enter Grindr (via smartphones), and its gremlin offspring, made possible by mobile internet connections and GPS, and you have a whole new paradigm forÂ interacting. You don’t have to say goodbye to anyone you initiate with.
I have a love-hate relationship with those types of apps. Scruff is my favoriteâ€”both because it promises hairier, bulkier guys and because it has useful features like private albums and global search. Man shopping in Milan, anyone?
I come from a place of relative prudence and moderate sexual appetite, so I trade pictures and seek free soft-core pornography (but nothing else), in the same way many men seek tangible physicalÂ interaction with the nearest and hottest taker (or giver).
After an exchange, over hours or days, I feel empty, and lose interest in whoever I was talking to. On to the next subject of my fantasies!
This cycle leaves a wake of uneasy acquaintances.Â How do I treat those people I once lusted after? And what if we went beyond the virtual, and actually met up, went on a date, or worse, actually had some sort of ongoing relationship?
Like ripping off a band-aid, being honest hurts at first, but it gets easier.
If you level with your online or in-person conquests, with whatever your true feelings are, then things will happen: (1) you will feel a little less guilty, and (2) you will earn respect instead of bitterness. The latter may take some time, but it is better to happen later than never.
Lately I have seen blatant evasion and dishonesty in the form of forgone closure. One party disappears, from online or otherwise, without so much as a text. My friends and I wonder, “did he die?”
Though I have learned to blindly give others the benefit of the doubt in these situations, I can’t help but be temporarily enraged by the thought that someone is disrespecting me or my friends, simply because they canâ€”by hiding behind a block button, or through the veil of distance.
Ignoring SMS texts is common too. I cannot stand to leave someone hanging onto unreplied, desperate text messages. And, I hate hanging on when it’s me sending them.
Of course, I get that this patheticÂ behavior is newly possibleâ€”a novelty evenâ€”thanks to the Grindr culture.
But is that really how we want to be remembered? As that guy, that group, that culture, who treat each other like disposable objects?
I guess here is where I realize my issue is a human one, not necessarily a gay one. Everyone needs closure, from family, from friends, from partners.
In my romantic past, the cases where I respected the other person enough to give them my honesty and my attention are the ones that Â I still speak with, and still send birthday cards to. Even guys I did the unspeakable with (hooked up once on a whim) have turned out to be pretty interesting friends, by way of mature closure.
Alternatively, where I was tossed aside without so much as a heads up that he was dating someone else, or leaving for Europe, I still feel some pain where my feelings were genuinely hurt.
Where I was the inconsiderate jerk, I feel a lot of guilt.
How I see itâ€”leaving a file folder disheveled and never fully closed leaves you emotionally taxed, stretched too thin. You burn bridges and earn an ugly reputation.
I liken it to telling lies. Eventually they loop back and you can’t remember who you’ve lied to. Unless your truths are a matter of national security, honesty is a much smoother path to take.
If you’re honest up front, and own your feelings, whatever they are (sometimes harder to admit to oneself than the telling someone else part), then all you can be faulted for is not being a coward.
To that mantra, I have made it a point to be as honest as possible with men. Yes, I just want to see your pictures. No, I do not want to meet up for a quickie. If we do meet up, I hope you understand that I will not be texting you back love notes.
Lately, I have been more interested in dating, the old-fashioned way. No clandestine dealings, no dirty late-night texts.
Just a hug on the first date.
And if it comes to that dreaded conversation, I will discuss in plain terms why I’m no longer interestedâ€”or accept his reasons for such. We can shake hands with finality, and not be ashamed when we run into each other years down the road. Maybe we’ll even congratulate each other on successful subsequent relationships, jobs, life happenings.
That is the healthy, humanÂ way to divest and close a file folder.